Experience the Sunset Behind the Andes from Cerró de Monserrate with Panoramic Views of Bogotá

Perhaps the number one destination for panoramic views of  downtown Bogotá, for both tourists and locals alike, is Cerró de Monserrate. Famous for its church, where on Sundays legions of parishioners make their way up, via cable car, train and hiking, for the weekly service, the Cerro provides a little sanctuary from the bustling city below. Travel up in the evening to enjoy the sun set over the Andes and see the skyline come alive with lights or take an early morning hike and reward yourself with a deserved Agua de Panela when you arrive.

The cerro was considered sacred by the indigenous Minca population, long before colonisation, as the sun rises directly behind the mountain during the solstice. This focal point was not lost and the Brotherhood of Vera Cruz built a shrine here which became the location of the city’s first cathedral.

At the top you will find a number of markets, shops and cafes and is considered one of the foremost tourist attractions in Bogota, so make sure its included on you itinerary. From the top you can see another white church and a giant statue of the virgin on the neighbouring Cerró de Guadalupe which offers even more spectacular views of the city. Its for those who want to avoid the crowds and who want more adventure as the route is slightly more tricky.

There are many stunning hikes up to the Cerros surrounding Bogota which start in the city itself. Read my post about hiking to Mirador Aguadora from Usaquen, which can be combined with a slightly longer Camino del Indio with Emblase San Rafel as a backdrop. Alternatively you can choose from 4 different hikes that from part of Quebrada la Vija, including one that takes you up to the closest Palmero direct from Chapinero.

Information

  1. Our Experience
  2. How to arrive

Our Experience

The first day that Angela and I had met, in my stopover in Bogotá, back in 2018, she pointed out the church on the mountain top. At the time we were walking around the downtown are and a 2km hike with an elevation of 500 metres felt easy. Flash forward 9 months having returned to London for 4 months and I was in much worse shape. I kept telling Angela that we would run up there the day I arrived back. She laughed, and was right to, she always is. After having landed at 4am with serious jet lag I spent the first weekend being spaced out and adjusting to my new surroundings. Instead we decided to go the following Saturday.

If you’ve been following my hikes in Bogotá you might be wondering why I’m posting this out of sequence. The truth is that on the day we hiked there was so much rain we were actually hiking in a cloud. Taking photographs of anything but grey was problematic so I sat on this one until a sunnier day when we returned in the evening, this time taking the Teleferico, saw the views that are the reason people flock to this site and armed with a new set of photos I could now write up the story.

Hiking

On the day of the hike we woke up to a grey skies, something I would become accustomed to over time. We took a Transmileno to Parque de Los Periodis on the Transmilenio and from there walked up the the trail head, located near the Teleférico on Carrera 1. Downtown is considered a little dangerous so there is good reason to take a taxi or Uber to the trail head if you want. We had also read a lot of information online about the not being safe but I think like lots of places in South America, especially where tourists are concerned things are getting safer. We hiked on a Saturday morning and there was a police presence which is helping to keep the path safe. Its open from 6am-4pm but you you won’t be allowed to start the hike after 1pm. I would advise going early.

During the walk up from the bus station the rain started, slow at first but really quickly turning into a down pour. As we started hiking up the trail it already felt as if we were in a cloud. The higher we went the more dense it became and the views from the top were grey. The climb is around 2km in total and although there are lots of people panting and taking there time there should be no reason why you can’t reach the top even if you are unfit. There are lots of steps so if you have mobility problems maybe give this a miss, but we took Lorenzo who was 4 at the time and there were lots of pensioners giving it there all.

There are lost of places on the route to buy drinks, use the bathroom and rest. It’s steep in places but unless you have a serious knee problem, I think you will be fine. Take your time, rest and enjoy the view. We found it a little tough that day as I hadn’t acclimatised to the altitude properly yet.

By the time we reached the top we were soaking wet and desperate for a view of the city. Sadly everything was surrounded in deep cloud and the rain started to get really heavy. We dashed into a small cafe we found close to the church and had some snacks before heading down in the train. There is a market here and a bunch of eateries I would probably avoid on the other side of the market but it’s a perfect place to spend a few hours and enjoy the view…assuming there is one! But its a good places to spend a sunny afternoon or an evening watching the sun set.

Teleférico

We returned a few months later to watch the sun set. The weather in Bogotá had changed and after over a week of beautiful sunny evenings on the Friday we found the time to return. I was excited as thought it would be an amazing place to see the sunset and I was not disappointed. We rode up on the Teleférico, which is $21,000 for a round trip and much quicker than hiking, also if you go in the evening hiking is not permitted. Make sure you get here with plenty of time to spare as it can get busy close to the sun set and it will get cold on the top when the sun has gone so make sure you dress appropriately.  As you ascend you will be treated to a panoramic view of the city, so its well worth a little jostling with the other passengers for a better spot. There are two cars which leave at the same time, crossing over in the middle, which means it takes some time between each trip and you might be in the line for some time. We had to wait for nearly an hour before we could ride back down after the sun set.

As soon as you exit at the top you are greeted with a view of the Church. You can go in and look but this time there was a service taking place and we were presented with much more distracting views.

Bogota just stretches out in front of you and actually this is just the south of the city. You can’t see a lot of the north from here as the view is blocked by the mountains.

This is the view of the Church on Cerro de Guadalupe, which is well worth a visit and you can read about in the separate blog post.

If you walk past the Church you will come across a market that sells everything you would usually find in a tourist hot-spot. If you keep going through the market and out the other side and you will find a lot of small restaurants restaurants and we would not recommend that you . Angela didn’t trust them as it was late and they all had a lot of food out. Angela asked me what I thought they were going to do with the left over food. The answer was, cook it tomorrow. And we had no idea if they had cooked it the day before.

If you walk past the restaurants then you will come out on a side of the hill that gringos don’t normally find. I have been told that it is possible to buy chicha here (at your own risk) but sadly on this day the seller was nowhere to be found. What you can find are more stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the city.

We headed back to the main spot to watch the sunset and it was beautiful through the clouds, watching the sky turn read as it dropped behind the mountains. As the sky became darker it started to get really cold. Bogota is not the warmest place on earth at the best of times especially at night, but its much colder up on the hills so make sure you dress appropriately.

I couldn’t resist getting some closeups of the clouds. When I zoomed in with my long lens I felt like I was flying through the clouds.

After taking a lot of shots of the city it became too dark to take more photos. We waited until the sun had fully set and the city lights had turned on. The transition was beautiful and I was really happy to have experienced it. We took the Teleferico back down, but there was a long line of people, some of them very cold. Angela was happy that she could understand conversations in 4 languages which kept her occupied while we waited for an hour to get back down. When we did reach the bottom we ordered and Uber as this is an area you don’t want to walk around in the dark. Do make sure you take a taxi on to your next destination.

How to get to Cerro de Monseratte

There are three options you can take depending on the time you want to visit. You can hike the 2km path up (not as hard as it sounds) or take the Teleferico or Funciular.

If you are in Downtown you can just walk up to where Carrera 1 meets Carrera 3, or the closest Transmileno stop is Universidads. When you exit the station walk towards and then cross Parque Germania. Follow the small stream up the hill along Calle 22 and you will come out by the station and entrance to the hike. I would just suggest taking a taxi or an Uber form your hotel as the cost is so low and they will drop you off in the correct spot.

If you do want to hike the route is open 6am –  4pm but the latest you can start the hike up is at 1pm. The path has been flagged as dangerous and there is a police present, at least at the weekends, but I’ve been told it is much safer and you can hike all week. Just be aware of your valuables when hiking. It shouldn’t take much longer than two hours, which was our time with a 4 year old in tow and although its steep in places it shouldn’t be too challenging. There are plenty of places to stop and rest along the way and some great views.

If you decide to take the transport its $21000 for a return ticket and $12000 for a single. Just consider that there are long queues at peak times, especially weekends and we had to wait for an hour to get back down after sunset. But you can’t walk at this time.

Equipment to Take

If you are taking the Teleferico or Funciular then take some warm clothing, especially if you are going up to watch the sun set. It also rains a lot in Bogota and often with little warning so it would be a good idea to be prepared.

The walk up is more of a walk than a hike, but I’d advise wearing sensible shoes and taking a bottle of water. There are plenty of places on the walk and at the top to stock up on supplies and you are only a short distance from the city so if you do get hurry then you can always head back down again.

There are many stunning hikes up to the Cerros surrounding Bogota which start in the city itself. Read my post about hiking to Mirador Aguadora from Usaquen, which can be combined with a slightly longer Camino del Indio with Emblase San Rafel as a backdrop. Alternatively you can choose from 4 different hikes that from part of Quebrada la Vija, including one that takes you up to the closest Palmero direct from Chapinero.

8 thoughts on “Experience the Sunset Behind the Andes from Cerró de Monserrate with Panoramic Views of Bogotá

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